In this adjournment, I asked the Minister for Housing for an immediate funding increase for the 'From Homelessness to a Home' program and a commitment to Housing First models in Victoria.
Adjournment - Homelessness
My adjournment matter tonight is for the Minister for Housing, and my ask is that he increases immediate funding for the From Homelessness to a Home program and commits to permanent ongoing funding for Housing First models in Victoria. The From Homelessness to a Home program was launched in mid-2020 as part of the government’s support to people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 lockdowns. It was designed to transition people out of temporary hotel and motel accommodation they had been given during lockdown into permanent, long-term affordable housing. It was based on the highly successful Housing First approach used internationally, which prioritises finding people long-term, secure affordable housing as the first immediate step without any housing readiness requirements and then connecting them with the support services they need.
Unsurprisingly, it was extremely successful when applied here. Street homelessness was effectively eradicated in the city during the COVID restriction period, and over 1000 participants who had been experiencing long-term homelessness secured permanent housing for the very first time. There are 550 participants in the program who are still waiting for permanent housing, but the future of their promised homes is currently at risk. Funding for the program has been drastically scaled back ahead of the program formally winding up in June this year. Without ongoing funding to extend leases for the remaining participants in transitional housing, many tenants have been issued notices to vacate, yet the sheer scale of our housing crisis means there is simply nowhere for them to go. Winding up the program before all participants are housed will force people into unsafe housing like rooming houses or into once again ending up on the streets. It is a complete failure of the principle of a Housing First model, and it is causing significant stress and anxiety to already vulnerable tenants with a long history of sustained homelessness.
When there are simply no affordable rentals in Victoria and when the demand for public housing is over 120,000 people, it is hard to see how anything other than an ongoing sustained investment in the program will ensure that it meets its objective of transitioning vulnerable Victorians out of long-term homelessness into permanent housing. The Council to Homeless Persons is calling on the government to allocate an additional $270 million to the program to help secure permanent housing for the remaining 550 participants and to expand the program to another 2400 households over four years. As the council has pointed out, this kind of long-term, sustained investment is much cheaper and more cost-effective than multiple short-term housing programs that cycle people between crisis accommodation, the health system and the justice system. This government proved with this program that it is possible to end homelessness with sustained investment in long-term affordable housing. There is no reason not to continue it. I ask the government to extend the immediate funding for the From Homelessness to a Home program and commit to permanent, ongoing funding for Housing First models in Victoria.
This adjournment was delivered on 8th March, 2023.